Redmond baby struggles with rare birth defect

Father says little Luka Hammett is a fighter

POSTED: 9:42 PM PDT June 26, 2013    UPDATED: 9:43 PM PDT June 26, 2013 
REDMOND, Ore. -

Stan Hammett and Melody Sanchez of Redmond haven't yet held their son, Luka.

At nearly a month old, he's fighting for his life -- but he's winning.

"The doctors have said it's kind of been miraculous how he's healing," Hammett said recently.

Little Luka was diagnosed with a rare birth defect just weeks before he was born: a hole in his diaphragm, meaning his lower organs drifted into his chest -- and his small intestines and part of his liver developed on top of one of his lungs.

"It was a pretty serious case," Hammett said.  "It causes his lungs to stop working and kind of go into shock."

Because of his complicated diagnosis, (it's known as a right-side congenital diaphragmatic hernia)  and his pressing need for surgery, Luka was born at the Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland.

His mother has been staying at the Ronald McDonald House there since May.

Hammett is a COCC culinary student. He and the couple's other young child drive up to Portland as often as they can.

It's a financial nightmare for the family -- they're bogged down by tens of thousands of dollars in medical expenses. But they say the miracle of Luka's fast recovery and  is worth every penny.

"He is a fighter, that's the best way I can describe him," Hammett said. "You look at this little guy and you see this look on his face like, 'Why am I covered in tubes? Take them off and let's go home.'"

Hammett said he is not sure when Luka will be able to go home. Doctors say it could be a couple weeks, or even a couple months.

In the meantime, his mother and father are eager to hold him, and say the support of the community during a tough time has brought their family even closer together.

There was a fundraiser on Wednesday night to help out with Luka's medical bills.

You could take a special flier to Pappy's Pizzeria in Bend or Redmond, and 50 percent of food purchases will be donated to Luka's family.

You can find this flier and print it out from Luka's Facebook page. Just search 'Luka James Hammett.'

If you were unable to make it, the family also has an account set up at Mid Oregon Credit Union, under the name 'Baby Hammett Donation Fund.'